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Why does Bracken not have a front door? (there's only two entrances) 


Also, is it haunted? What wives tales are there about the library? 


Dear Doorkeeper,

The University Libraries’ Archives & Special Collections holds a treasure trove of information about Ball State history and is a can’t-miss destination for anyone researching the university’s past. There, The Seeker found a multitude of materials dating back to the time of Bracken’s planning, design, and construction.

The Seeker presumes you’re asking why the library has no door on its west side, facing The Atrium. Midway between the first discussions about a possible new library in 1966 and the opening of Bracken in 1975, such an entrance was considered. “The entrance to the new library should be located where it is convenient to the greatest number of users and this suggests that the entrance be on McKinley Avenue.” (A Statement of Program, 1970.) Less than four months later, however, architectural plans approved by Ball State’s Board of Trustees in October 1970 included only the north and south entrances we know today.

What happened? It seems concerns about cost and lighting won out. In a 1966 meeting with university administrators, consultant Keyes Metcalf cautioned that situating a new library in the middle of campus would foster temptation to make the building symmetrical, with entrances on all four sides, which he said would be costly. Metcalf also advised that if the building be more rectangular than square, it should be oriented east-west to allow sunlight to enter from the north (Fraser, 1966). Undated notes from a meeting that appears to have taken place around October 1970 also note the desire to avoid having the sun’s rays pouring in directly (Fraser, n.d.).

As for myths about the library, doubtlessly the most widespread is that Bracken was designed to resemble a row of books standing on a shelf. Indeed, for some the library’s environs are a massive brick-and-concrete Rorschach test, with neighboring buildings said to simulate a drafting table (Architecture Building), a concert piano (Pruis Hall), and a typewriter (Whitinger Business Building). As it pertains to the library, though, the principal architect in the building’s design utterly demolished the oft-told tale in a 1997 interview.

“It just happens to look that way,” Robert K. Gloyeske said. “It certainly wasn’t preconceived. It’s just coincidental.” He explained that the building’s size prevented it from being built with a simple, flat façade. (Plothe, 1997). 

The unintended nature of Bracken’s book-like appearance certainly doesn’t mean you have to stop seeing it that way though, or that it’s any less apt or fun. And whichever entrance you choose, inside you’ll find five floors packed with resources and assistance – your destination for research, learning, and friends. 


Fraser, M. (1966, February 22). [Handwritten meeting notes]. Ball State University Subject Files (Box 51, Folder 8). Ball State University Archives & Special Collections, Muncie, IN.

Fraser, M. (n.d.). [Handwritten meeting notes]. Ball State University Subject Files (Box 51, Folder 8). Ball State University Archives & Special Collections, Muncie, IN.

Plothe, T. (1997, August 22). Tales out of school. Ball State Daily News, Diversions section, pp. 1, 8).

A Statement of Program for the Proposed New Library. (1970). Ball State University Subject Files (Box 51, Folder 8). Ball State University Archives & Special Collections, Muncie, IN. 

Answered on 2015-12-30 11:18:54


Is it true that Count Dracula was based on Vlad the Impaler?


Dear Vampire Hunter, 

They seem like a perfect match: Vlad III Dracula, a 15th century tyrant with a penchant for creative brutality; and Count Dracula, a centuries-old vampire with a penchant for draining the blood of Victorian Londoners. However, it might be an oversimplification to say simply that the Transylvanian vampire of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula is based on the historical Vlad.

The notion that Vlad III – also known as Vlad the Impaler – was the inspiration for the Count rests primarily on two monologues in Stoker’s novel. Early in the book Dracula regales Jonathan Harker with tales of battles fought by his ancestors, the Szekelys. Harker notes the Count recalls them “as if he had been present at them all” (Stoker, 1897/1993, p. 38). Later, Dr. Van Helsing observes the vampire “must indeed have been that Voivode Dracula” famed for crossing the Danube to fight the Turks (Stoker, 1897/1993, p. 291). 

“Dracula” was a nickname of the historical Vlad, who was the voivode, or ruler, of Wallachia. Wallachia is a region in modern day Romania that bordered Vlad’s native Transylvania. He was not descended from the Szeklers, but he was connected to a number of battles referenced by the Count and Van Helsing. Vlad also owned a castle at the Borgo Pass, just as the Count did (Florescu & McNally, 1989). All this indicates Stoker found in Vlad a name and historical basis for his villain. Commentators agree the author’s knowledge of the voivode was culled from library research and perhaps conversations with the scholar Arminius Vambrey (Miller, 2011; "Dracula,” 2001; Bierman, 1977/1988; Florescu & McNally, 1989).

But these are only two brief passages in the novel. What of the Count’s stilted manners? What of his white-hot rages and sometimes lascivious behavior? And what then of the unique powers and weaknesses Stoker ascribes to the undead?

Stoker encountered the idea of vampirism in the 1871 novel Carmilla, which spurred him to study vampire lore. As to human inspirations for the Count, at the top of the list is Stoker’s boss, the actor Sir Henry Irving. Stoker was fascinated by Irving. The actor held an “extraordinary dominance” over the writer, something like the Count held over the madman Renfield. Stoker’s description of an 1876 performance by Irving reads like an early draft of the Count’s mien (McNally & Florescu, 1972). He might even have intended to adapt his novel for the stage with Irving in the title role (Steinmeyer, 2013).

Irving is not alone though. The marks of other 19th century noteworthies have also been found in the Count, including Jack the Ripper, the playwright Oscar Wilde, composer Franz Liszt, adventurer/scholar Sir Richard Burton, and even poet Walt Whitman. (Steinmeyer, 2013). 

The Count in other works appears inspired to greater and lesser degrees by Vlad. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for example, quite clearly links the two. As for Stoker’s original though, he appears to be a composite of several historical figures. 


Bierman, J.S. (1988). The genesis and dating of Dracula from Bram Stoker’s working notes. In M.L. Carter (Ed.), Dracula: The vampire and the critics. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press. (Original work published 1977)

“Dracula.” (2001). In J.G. Melton (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. Detroit, MI: Gale. Retrieved from

Florescu, R.R. & McNally, R.T. (1989). Dracula: Prince of many faces. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co. 

McNally, R.T. & Florescu, R. (1972). In search of Dracula: A true history of Dracula and vampire legends. Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society.

Miller, E. (2011). Dracula (Stoker). In S.T. Joshi (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Vampire: The Living Dead in Myth, Legend, and Popular Culture. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press. Retrieved from

Steinmeyer, J. (2013). Who was Dracula? Bram Stoker’s trail of blood. New York, NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin.

Stoker, B. (1993). The Essential Dracula. L. Wolf (Ed.). New York, NY: Penguin Books. (Original work published 1897) 

Answered on 2015-10-28 10:34:08


Why do we forget most of our dreams?


Dear Beautiful Dreamer,

You signed up for Ball State’s emergency notification service months ago, but there was no text message warning you about the dozens of angry bears that had descended – literally, from helicopters – upon campus. Cowering under a blanket, you hope they’ll pass your first-floor window without noticing, when you hear claws scratching against the glass. You leap to the window, holding it shut while the brawny bruin pries at it.

Hours later you find yourself still in bed, blankets and sheets kicked into a tangle, with a fuzzy memory of being terrified by something. What DID you dream?

Sometimes we remember dreams in great detail, like feature-length movies. Other times, we’re left with fragments: a hazy memory of falling, or going to a party, or being in class. Many factors internal and external determine which dreams you remember fully, vaguely, or not at all.

Dreams usually occur during periods of sleep characterized by rapid eye movements and increased frequency of brain waves. Everyone experiences such periods, called REM sleep, during a night of normal sleep, and everyone has dreams too – every night. In fact, a typical adult will dream three to five times during eight hours of normal sleep (“Dreams,” 2001).

When REM sleep ends and a sleeper lapses back into dreamless sleep, dreams are forgotten. If, however, the sleeper awakens in a quiet environment just after dreaming, or if REM sleep is followed by a period of activity in his or her higher brain centers – called cortical activation – the dream will be consolidated into memory ("Recall of dreams,” 1993).

The tendency to recall dreams can be enhanced by keeping a diary and recording remembered dreams upon waking ("Keeping a dream diary," 2003). Dreams are also sometimes recalled spontaneously when a person sees something in the waking world that reminds them of a dream they had during the previous night (“Recall of dreams,” 1993). 

A final, perhaps obvious, consideration also plays a part; people are more apt to remember an interesting dream than a boring one (“Recall of dreams,” 1993). It is possible then, if you haven’t been recalling your own lately, that your sleeping self hasn’t been up to anything your waking self cares to know. 


"Dreams." (2001). In The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. (Vol. 1, pp. 195-196). Detroit, MI: Gale. Retrieved from

"Keeping a dream diary." (2003). In The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and the Unexplained. (Vol. 3, p. 132). Detroit, MI: Gale. Retrieved from

"Recall of Dreams." (1993). In Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. (Vol. 1, pp. 491-493). New York, NY: Macmillan. 

Answered on 2015-10-07 13:00:04

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